Today I was lucky enough to spend the whole day in Venice! I got up super early, took the metro to the train to San Lucia Station, and was on my way! I loved watching all of the gorgeous Italian forests, lakes, vineyards, and everything else out of the window for 2.5 hours. Honestly, in Italy, every single thing you see is just prettier and prettier than the next, and you can't even believe it! Everywhere you look, you're saying to yourself "I wouldn't mind seeing this view every day of my life," and then you see something else, just as, if not more, pretty, and you find yourself thinking, "Wait, no, this view, too!" And eventually it gets to just be too much and you're in a complete and utter sea of gorgeousness! 😍
I'm so happy that I spent all the time to plan this trip out so carefully, because it absolutely ROCKED! Right when I got to Venice, I enjoyed the sights- immediately when I stepped off the train, I saw gorgeous gondolas, boats, and monuments. Wow! I got some awesome gelato (Reese's and Tiramisu! Gotta eat Italy while I'm still hereeeee), and wandered around the streets of Venice. I saw a lot of pretty bridges- there are lots of mini ones, and then there's the Rialto Bridge, the most popular one, which is always FILLED to the brim with people, so I made sure to see that, but also to see lesser-populated areas so that I could have more private views of the city and canal.
I adored strolling along the Grand Canal, and seeing the beautiful, sparkling river filled with gondolas, mercantile ships, and seagulls! I even took a gondola ride, and, surprisingly, it was only €2! It was so fun watching the men in striped shirts row us around... I used to row varsity crew, so it was really fun not being the one to row the boat 😍
I crossed the river to see this newly installed statue of hands coming up out of the water- a sort of symbol of the climate change and rising water levels in Venice. I really like how the artist is combining art and environmental awareness- lots of tourists take pictures of this work of art, so I'm sure that the message really gets spread!
I meandered through an authentic Venetian Market, where I got bag of pasta shaped like penises for my friend, because it was just so HIM. I don't usually buy souvenirs for myself, my friends, or my family, but, honestly, this one was a must. Like, don't you ever walk by something and immediately think of your friend and just HAVE to get it?! I know I do! I loved seeing all the hanging garlic/pepperoncino, fresh fruit/vegetables, and still-alive seafood. Felt like old Venice. No tourists, just locals doing their daily shopping at the market. 🤗
My friend recommended that I go to lunch at Trattoria alla Madonna- it was simply LOVELY! I had a lot of fun walking around the restaurant seeing all of the freshly caught seafood on display- from squid to clams to lobster they had it all. Lots of cool old art and felt like I was back in 19th century Italy. I had the famous risotto ai frutta di mare, or, for my American readers, cheesy rice with seafood, fresh bread, and my first/ever cassata siciliana, a traditional fruit/chocolate dessert served in Venice.
This past week, I bought tickets for a 3-hour private tour of St. Mark’s Basilica, otherwise known as the "Golden Church" and the Doge's Palace. It. Was. Epic. So happy I signed up for this tour! We had headsets and everything, and the guide was an older Venetian woman who really seemed to know EVERYthing about Venice. I love history and Europe is the place to be for that! The tour was SO detailed- I could go on for hours and hours with cool facts and figures, but since most people have either been to Venice or heard about its attractions, I'll just tell you what I thought the most unique/interesting parts of each were. Again, this is my second time here, and last time I even got to see the Golden Pall, so I am really into Venice- be warned! 😍
My favorite parts of the tour of St. Mark's include the focus on the gorgeous golden-coated murano glas pictorial mosaics! The shadows, depths, and accuracy that the masters had in depicting people, animals, and scenery in general is startling. Wow. Lots of tiny little pieces of glass were coated in pure gold leafing and, over 700 years, the murals and decorations of this Mecca for all history and/or Jesus lovers was complete! It's crazy, the tiles sometimes fall off the wall daily, so you might just be walking through the church and see one on the ground- pick it up and return it to the museum, as they reconstruct extra murals in their gallery! I also loved the Loggia dei Cavalli Terrace where you can look out onto all of St. Mark's Square and enjoy views of the water, too!
For the Doges Palace, my favorite part was the Bridge of Sighs, the last place where prisoners would see the gorgeous views of Venice. It's this tiny little bridge with baby-sized holes in it so you can peep through at the breathtaking view of Venice! If I were a prisoner, I'd want to see this as my last view of the city, too! Another interesting part was the secret door in one of the medium-sized senate rooms- I thought it was so dope that a Doge or member of the council can just slip out and be like, "BYE!" I would do that when I felt like I needed some caffeine in my system during their what I'm sure were ridiculously long meetings. Lol. It is so crazy, a Doge has to be 75 to be elected- so old because in the old days, they only wanted a Doge for a couple months/years, and people living to 75 was like their living till 95 today, so they would make sure that the Doge was pretty old so that he would die and not get TOO much power! Additionally, the gorgeous painted ceilings that survived multiple fires really got my attention, with their guiding, bright colors, and fascinating subjects. As I said.... Could go on for hours (and I do!).
After the wonderful and detailed tour of these two highlights of Venice, I saw the Campanile- bell tower- in Piazza San Marco, which I am glad I got tickets to ahead of time, because it was a 2 hour-long line to go up, and I got to skip the entire line for the same price! Thinking ahead always pays off ✅ The elevator takes you all the way to the top, where the bells are, and then you get to see breathtaking panoramic views of Venice! I love how you see all the orange rooftops that contrast so well with the sea.
I collect glass animals, so of course I had to cop a few for my collection! Murano glass is the famous venetian glass, so I got a penguin, bee, dolphin, and gondola. It was a MUST! Last time I was in Venice I got a plague mask and a masquerade mask, so I had to do it this time! Even had a glassblower at my bat mitzvah that's how obsessed I am lol. So that made me quite happy!
My Italian friend insisted I go to Libreria dell'Acqua Alta- and I'm SO glad I did! It is this tiny little bookshop with a sign out front that says "coolest bookstore in the world"- most would doubt this statement upon seeing the tiny little storefront, but when you walk in past the wheelbarrows and boats filled with discounted books and pictures of saints, you walk into a whole other world. The entire store is stuffed to the brim with books, magazines, and more literature of every genre, language, and length. The owners have come up with creative ways to store the books, in gondolas, mazes, and even as a huge staircase built to walk onto a gorgeous view of all of Venice! Wow! As a bookworm, this is my PLACE! The cutest of all was a reading nook with a chair RIGHT next to the water- literally the back of the store bordered the canal, so they just left it open and you can sit there reading looking out onto the canal, so peacefully- they even had a sign that had an image of a man jumping out of the store saying "FIRE EXIT" - lol. There are also cats meandering throughout the store- so fun and inventive!
I went to a traditional Venetian restaurant for dinner, where I had these awesome fried things you dip in fondue and then a Calzone stuffed with sausage and mozzarella/ricotta. I even got to try Venice's famed pistachio cookies. Gonna miss the European food and people watching more than you'd know. Gotta live in the moment and ENJOY! Life is like a melting gelato, gotta savor it while it lasts! 😀
Today I found out CorePower Yoga (the yoga studio at which I teach in DC/MD) is opening up its first-ever USC studio, and I'm really excited to teach there! Lots of great things are happening for me, and I'm so grateful for each and every one of them 😻 Venice today was straight out of a dream, honestly. I feel so lucky to be me! I work hard but also surround myself with the right people and vibes, so this is how I succeed! Set up for success and you'll get it 😎 Going to miss Venice so much! One day felt wayyyy too short, but one day is better than no days! I took the train back to Milano, hit up the market for some last-minute groceries and FaceTimed my friends/family to tell them all about Venice, then fell asleep like THAT!